The lesson of the butterfly: Let kids struggle and develop resilience!

There is great value in allowing children to struggle, but it requires mom and dad parenting with the long term in mind. It’s often quicker and easier in the moment to do things for kids, rescue them, and solve their problems. In the long run, you’ve made them dependent and lacking crucial coping skills like self-reliance and resilience, both necessary for a successful life.

A grandfather brought his young granddaughter the gift of a cocoon. He instructed her in staying patient and allowing the caterpillar to grow at it’s own pace inside the shell. He told her that at some point the cocoon would begin to move as the caterpillar transformed into a beautiful butterfly, and that she might be tempted to help him out of his covering. The grandfather encouraged her to let the butterfly come out on it’s own. Sure enough, a week later the cocoon began to wiggle, and over the proceeding days the little girl began to feel sorry for the poor butterfly who was aching to come out. So she took a sharp knife and carefully slit a hole down the side of the cocoon, and a moment later out popped a colorful butterfly. The creature dusted off her wings and flew a few feet before she plopped onto the table. She tried it again with the same result, and then proceeded to the edge of the table. The butterfly took off and flew a few feet before falling to the floor, dead.

The little girl was crushed and began to cry. What she had failed to understand was that the butterfly needed time to push against the walls of her shell to push fluids down the length of her wings, strengthening them so that when she emerged she would have the strength to fly and survive.

Great metaphor to illustrate our need as parents to step back and allow kids to try things, get frustrated, try again and get frustrated, and then try and succeed and be able to say to themselves, “I did it!”

When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in.

That’s what this storm’s all about.         Haruki Murakami

Every opportunity kids have to solve their own problems, deal with feelings of frustration and disappointment, and pick themselves up and keep at it becomes a building block for self-confidence and grit. They will learn how to handle the normal ups and downs of life, a critical coping skill lacking in many millennials.

Remember the lesson of the butterfly, and parent with the end in mind of self-reliance and resilience.


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